‘The SNP mustn’t forget the battlers at its core’ unless of course they aren’t actually battlers or at its core at all!

Kevin McKenna was at it again in the Observer today, 16th October 2016. Remember it was Kevin who once accused the SNP of being ‘Arrogant, dismissive, illiberal, reactionary, totalitarian!’  He was angry, very angry, judging by his language, because the SNP government was interfering with some parent’s (religious ones mainly) rights, by trying to introduce legislation that might help prevent child abuse. My response at the time is below.

Some commentators on social media have alleged that McKenna, a recent convert from rabid Unionism to apparent support for independence, is actually a ‘mole’, pretending to be a ‘critical friend’ but actually working to undermine the movement by sowing dissent within it. Here’s what Bella Caledonia had to say about his writing just before he shifted:

‘It’s a piece so loaded with self-loathing, barely recognised inferiorism and desperate, desperate political emptiness it’s hard to approach, but we really do need to talk about Kevin. It’s the latest in a now familiar style of English journalism, albeit this time by a Scot.’

I couldn’t possible comment.

Today, he was sowing dissent in the wider movement by going on about the ‘eye-watering’ cost of hiring stalls at the SNP conference. This had forced out groups like Common Space, Compass, Oxfam, the New Economic Foundation, Friends of the Earth and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, thus spoiling the ‘pleasingly chaotic and unfettered atmosphere.’

I’ll be direct. None of these groups, though no doubt worthy in other contexts, could be described as either ‘battlers’ for the independence movement or ‘at its core’. I’ve expressed before my very strong reservations about the SNP’s current position on NATO and the monarchy but I’m prepared to wait until the great day and not waste everybody’s time and energy on them now. As for the other political groups ‘dubbed the SNP’s Momentum shadow’, presumably RISE, do what the real Momentum actually did for Labour in England, join the SNP and fight from within to influence its direction.  Why on Earth would you expect the SNP to spend time and energy flattering the egos of tiny ineffective groups posturing on the fringes of the drive for independence?

And, returning to the ‘pleasingly chaotic and unfettered atmosphere’ McKenna would rather the conference had, how would that help? You could argue that would just suit the Unionists and their media commentators:

‘Ruth Davidson: The SNP Conference is chaotic. How could we trust them to run a country?’







4 thoughts on “‘The SNP mustn’t forget the battlers at its core’ unless of course they aren’t actually battlers or at its core at all!

  1. Born Optimist October 16, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Having attended the conference as a member for the first time I found it anything but chaotic (though signposting throughout the SECC was abysmal) and, much to my surprise, I found the Conference ‘fringe’ just as, if not more, enlightening than the main conference, devoted as one might expect to discussing and voting on motions whose origins were elsewhere in the party calendar. The principal speeches were, for me, invigorating and, justifiably received high profile publicity in the media (along with the anticipated needling and attempts to discredit the SNP and Scottish Government).

    As noted above, most of the organisations to be found in the IdeaSpace ‘fringe’ were not core elements of the Yes movement and certainly not the SNP, however worthy their cause. Nevertheless their voices were very welcome and are likely to become a feature of future conferences. It iwas also notable that the various hour long presentations and discussions by well known activists on Land Reform, Currency, and other subjects were extremely well attended, with a vary large proportion of the audiences also being conference attendees (if judged by the yellow lanyards and badges). These sessions clearly represented core interests of many participants and will filter into branch discussions and ultimately may influence SNP policy.

    The information available to conference attendees and general members of the public from the groups in the ‘fringe’ was also a popular draw and a useful complement to the stalls in the main conference hall.

    Distinguishing the ‘fringe’ conference stalls from those in the main conference hall was quite easy – as Kevin McKenna noted, it came down to who had the most cash. However, in terms of influence and the generation of ideas I would say that IdeaSpace won hands down and this is no bad thing when one party is so dominant (and hopefully will remain so until Independence is won) and confronted by other parties seemingly incapable of coming up with policies worth pursuing. My impression was that, if any policies need further development in order to be implement by a Scottish Government in order to benefit Scotland’s population, it was those being fostered in IdeaSpace that are likely to carry the day and lead to a fairer, more inclusive, and successful Scottish society.

    So, let the fat cat businesses fund the conference, but ensure that less self interested groups, organisations, and individuals are supported so that they continually nip at the heels of the SNP and keep them true to their purpose until Independence is ensured,

    To date I have not been aware of any organisations ‘buying’ access to senior members of the SNP and gaining any notable benefit from this, though there have been numerous indications that various PR organisations and lobbyists attempt to influence politicians. If the SNP bend to their will then clearly they will no longer be representing the majority of Scots citizens. Until then, so long as there are ways and means for outsiders to campaign and persuade and a large and active SNP membership prepared to question impropriety, I suggest, there may be little danger in setting extremely high charges for business groups at the annual conference but,ideally, if fairness and inclusiveness are to be more than buzzwords, it is surely not beyond the imagination of the conference organisers to have a scaled set of charges based on the income of organisations interested in having conference stalls.


    • johnrobertson834 October 17, 2016 / 10:29 am

      That’s really helpful first-hand evidence. Do you mind if I share it with Bella Caledonia in responses on a Common Space piece?


  2. Clydebuilt October 16, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    On the odd occasion I find myself reading one of Kev’s efforts, irrespective of the subject. There’s a recurring thought running through my Heid….. His ability to express himself on paper isn’t at the same level as other commentators.

    Yesterday in the Herald his advice for Nicola is go to Indy Ref2…… NOW…… Since we’re suspicious of his motives…. This probably means we should wait.


    • johnrobertson834 October 17, 2016 / 6:26 am

      Aye, that would be my reaction too. It’s probably just daft advice but…


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